Japan Aims to Launch Next-Gen Passenger Jet Project

A Mitsubishi Regional Jet protype parked at Nagoya
Grasshopper2015, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

Japan has set its sights on the skies once again, announcing an ambitious project to develop a next-generation passenger aircraft.

This public-private initiative, unveiled on March 27, 2024, marks a renewed effort to establish a domestic aircraft industry and contribute to a more sustainable future for aviation.

Aircraft Plans Renewed

The project comes after a previous attempt by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). The plan to develop Japan’s first passenger jet in over half a century was scrapped in February 2023.

The homegrown airliner, named SpaceJet and originally called the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), began as a project in 2008. It was slated for deliveries to commence in 2013.

After a series of scheduling delays, MHI canned the project last year. The manufacturer cited rising costs and a lack of technical knowledge for the decision.

STRONGlk7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Undeterred, the government is taking the lead this time, collaborating with private companies in a joint effort. This shift towards a public-private partnership signifies a national commitment to the project’s success.

Aerospace engineers are actively designing the new aircraft as a technological marvel, integrating “new environmental technologies.” This will involve the incorporation of either hydrogen or hybrid electric propulsion systems.

This focus on sustainability reflects a growing global concern about the environmental impact of air travel.

By prioritizing eco-friendly technologies, Japan aims to develop a plane that reduces carbon emissions. In so doing, it aims to contribute to the decarbonization of air transport.

Commercial Flights After 2035

The project is expected to take ten years to complete, with the first commercial flights targeted for some time after 2035.

The estimated investment cost sits at a staggering five trillion yen (approximately $33 billion). This significant financial commitment underscores the government’s determination to make this project a reality.

While the specific details of the aircraft’s design and capabilities are yet to be revealed, experts speculate it might be a narrow-body plane, typically used for short and medium-haul flights.

This segment of the aviation market is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years, making it a strategic choice for Japan’s new venture.

Benefits and Challenges

Success in this endeavor would bring several benefits to Japan. First, it would establish a robust domestic aircraft manufacturing industry, potentially creating new jobs and boosting the country’s technological prowess.

Second, by developing a fuel-efficient plane, Japan could position itself as a leader in sustainable aviation solutions, attracting international partnerships and recognition.

Finally, a successful project would solidify Japan’s position as a major player in the global aerospace industry.

There are, of course, challenges to overcome. The development of new aircraft technologies is a complex and time-consuming process.

Additionally, Japan will need to compete with established players like Boeing and Airbus, who have a significant head start in terms of experience and resources.

However, Japan’s history of technological innovation inspires confidence. The country boasts a highly skilled workforce and a proven track record in developing cutting-edge technologies.

With a clear vision, a collaborative approach, and a commitment to sustainability, Japan’s next-generation passenger plane project has the potential groundswell to take flight.


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After a previous project was shelved, Japan now aims to launch a new public-private initiative to develop a next-generation passenger aircraft.
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